HK hopes up for Aramco blockbuster

Business | Janice Huang and Reuters 8 Mar 2018

Hong Kong has a good chance of luring Saudi Aramco into listing on the local bourse, with the oil giant said to be gauging cornerstone investors in Asia, including China and Japan.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's upcoming trip to Britain and the United States could shape the decision on where to list Aramco, at a time when sources say the chances of London and New York hosting the IPO appear to be receding.

The two leading financial centers have long been the front runners to host the international leg of the flotation, alongside a Riyadh listing.

Yet this may no longer be the case as Hong Kong is emerging as an increasingly likely compromise because Riyadh wants to help Asian nations that are expected to become "cornerstone" investors, according to two sources.

To be sure, both London and New York are still in the running, but their requirement for greater disclosure of sensitive information on Aramco than the Hong Kong exchange is viewed as a drawback by some Saudi officials and advisers, the sources said.

A final decision has yet to be made, the sources said. The complexity of the listing, legal worries and conflicting recommendations of the advisers have delayed decision-making, they added.

Saudi Aramco said it was still reviewing its options, and that no decision had been made, but declined to comment further.

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing said: "Hong Kong is well positioned for the listing of Aramco. We have not received any indication of how the company is likely to proceed with its international listing plan."

Meanwhile, China Securities Regulatory Commission officials have reportedly met Xiaomi founder and chief executive Lei Jun, and asked him to list in the A-share market. But Xiaomi will reportedly find a way to list in both Hong Kong and the mainland.

Elsewhere, Chinese live-video streaming start-up Kuaishou, backed by Tencent Holdings (0700), is expected to make a debut in Hong Kong this year.

The start-up is valued at about US$18 billion (HK$140 billion) and has attracted, among others, venture capital firm Sequoia Capital China.

In other IPO action, Chinese integrated Plastic solutions provider Tian Chang Group Holdings' retail tranche was oversubscribed 577.7 times.

The company set its pricing at 71 HK cents, the upper half of an indicative range of 65 HK cents to 75 HK cents per share. It recorded net proceeds of HK$77.6 million from the public offering.

It will make its debut today.

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